Understanding The Concept Of "TEST-OPTIONAL COLLEGES"

 Tutela Understanding the concept of TEST OPTIONAL COLLEGES

In this blog, we will explain what “TEST-OPTIONAL POLICY” means for different colleges with a comprehensive list of test-optional colleges and universities in the US.

What does “test-optional” mean?
The test-optional admissions policy generally means that it is not mandated for students to submit their SAT or ACT test scores during the application review process but will be duly considered if submitted. Along the way, we will also give a few tips on why you should or why should not send your SAT/ACT scores.

What are the types of “test-optional” colleges?

  • Test-optional colleges: Due to the COVID-19 situation, a few colleges are letting students decide whether they want to submit test scores along with their college applications or not. They will consider SAT/ACT scores in case they are submitted, but the focus would also be given to other factors that predict a student’s potential to succeed in college. Hence. do not assume that a test-optional college will NOT accept a score if submitted.  College.
  • Test-flexible colleges: These colleges let students submit test scores other than SAT/ACT, for example, SAT Subject Tests/IB exams/AP exams/school-administered placement tests.

What is the difference between test-optional policies from college to college?

  • Some colleges/universities require test scores for out-of-state or international students, or students opting for certain majors.
  • Some colleges/universities may determine the test-optional eligibility using an index calculated from your GPA, test scores, and class rank.
  • Some colleges/universities will expect students to submit their test scores for placement in the freshman class or ask them to take a placement exam.
  • Some colleges/universities may ask for additional materials in lieu of test scores.

Which other parts of your application will be strictly scrutinized?

  • Essays
  • Recommendations
  • Grades
  • Coursework/Samples of your academic work
  • Scientific research
  • Additional recommendation letters

When should students submit SAT/ACT scores?

  • If students do opt for ACT/SAT and manage to achieve their target score, it will definitely give them an edge over others in the admission process by further emphasizing their academic potential.
  • If the college/university recommends submitting them. Remember that not all colleges/universities are adopting the test-optional option; Hence, to be on the safer side, a good SAT/ACT score on your profile will definitely be a plus.
  • If students did not take any SAT Subject Tests, AP tests, or IB tests, or did not do well on any of them.
  • If the student is applying to a college/university that is prestigious/elite or to a college/university that has not stated any test-optional policies.
  • If the test-optional policy is not benefitting the students. If a student has a weak school academic record, a good SAT/ACT score can prove the academic rigour of the student.
  • If students are looking forward to merit scholarships then not submitting the SAT/ACT score might put them at a disadvantage.

When should students not submit their SAT/ACT scores?

  • If the SAT/ACT scores are low as they will end up counting against the student during the admission process. Also, if a student can prove his/her academic potential through strong school grades, then one can opt for a test-optional policy of colleges/universities.
  • If the students have done exceptionally well on the SAT Subject Tests, AP tests, and/or IB tests than on the SAT/ACT, then you can submit just the SAT Subject Tests or AP scores to the colleges listed below.
  • Students did not score as highly as they hoped for in any of the tests as unsatisfactory scores could potentially hurt their application. However, one should try and leverage other aspects of the college profile such as essays, recommendation letters, etc.

As the decision of making SAT/ACT optional is taken by only a few universities till now, there is no concrete information regarding the same given by other universities. Hence, it is too early to decide something like that. Therefore, we recommend preparing for the next attempt at SAT/ACT with the same rigour. If any such decision is taken by all the universities, then they will inform the students accordingly. Remember that having a standardized test score is always good for your applications.

So what should a student do? 
Utilize this time effectively. Plan more than one standardized test preparation. We do not know hectic the situation will be after the lockdown discontinues. It is better that we prepare and try to finish the syllabus at the earliest. Attend online sessions, webinars, and online practice tests. Students will not get such an opportunity again.

Students will be needing more assistance than usual. Such sudden changes create panic and doubts. Students need guidance more than ever as it is their career we are talking about, Students need to plan well and seek help if they need it. Test patterns are changing. Resources are limited. Students need proper planning and assistance wrt test preparation. They need guidance regarding utilizing this time effectively.

We strongly recommend students start their SAT Subject Test preparation alongside ACT/SAT. Take the diagnostic tests and start with the test prep. We have the time now. Just get organized and start with the preparation. Do not procrastinate.

You can join Tutela’s online batches for ACT, SAT, APs, SAT Subject Tests, and IB. In case you are clueless regarding test-prep timelines and planning, feel free to reach out to us. We will get you started.

NOTE: Here is a list of the colleges that have so far adopted the TEST-OPTIONAL POLICY for 2020.


  • Adelphi College (New York)
  • Alabama State University
  • Albion College (Michigan)
  • Alma College (Michigan) – previously test-optional only for applicants with an HSGPA of 2.75 or higher
  • Austin Peay State University (Tennessee) for applicants with an HSGPA of 2.85 or higher
  • Auburn University at Montgomery (Alabama)
  • Bethany College (Kansas)
  • Bismarck State College (North Dakota)
  • Brigham Young University — Idaho
  • Cleveland State College (Ohio)
  • Clarion University (Pennsylvania)
  • Cottey College (Missouri)
  • Fairmont State University (West Virginia)
  • Franklin College (Indiana)
  • Indiana University Kokomo (other Indiana University campuses are fully test-optional)
  • Indiana University Northwest (other Indiana University campuses are fully test-optional)
  • Indiana University Southeast (other Indiana University campuses are fully test-optional)
  • Indiana Wesleyan University (Indiana)
  • Iowa Wesleyan University (Iowa)
  • Kent State University (Ohio) for applicants with high school GPAs of 3.2 or above
  • Kutztown University (Pennsylvania)
  • Lamar University (Texas)
  • Limestone College (South Carolina)
  • Lock Haven University (New York)
  • Longwood University (Virginia)
  • Malone University (Ohio)
  • Mansfield University (Pennsylvania)
  • McMurry University (Tennessee) for applicants with high school GPAs of 3.0 and above
  • Midway University (Kentucky)
  • Millersville University (Pennsylvania – previously test-optional only for local applicants)
  • Newberry College (South Carolina)
  • Northern Kentucky University
  • Ohio University (includes applicants through Spring 2021)
  • Saint Vincent College (Pennsylvania)
  • St. Mary’s University (Texas)
  • St. Thomas Aquinas College (New York)
  • St. Thomas University (Florida)
  • Savannah College of Arts and Design (Georgia)
  • Schreiner University (Texas)
  • Southwest Baptist University (Missouri)
  • Thiel College (Pennsylvania)
  • University of Akron (Ohio)
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • University of Dayton (Ohio)
  • University of Mount Union (Ohio)
  • University of Nevada – Las Vegas
  • University of Nevada – Reno
  • University of North Dakota – Grand Forks
  • University of Pittsburgh Regional Campuses (Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown and Titusville)
  • University System of Georgia (all public campuses except Georgia Tech and UGa)
  • University of Virginia – Wise
  • Washington State University
  • Vancouver West Virginia State University
  • Westminster College (Pennsylvania)
  • Winthrop University (South Carolina)

To learn more about what should a student be doing click here.

Source: Fairtest